Tuesday, May 08, 2012

You'll get almost as many points for being tardy to the party as you will for being right. (The Great 100-day, etc etc etc)

George Lucas stole from Wagner?

Probably. And so did J.R.R. Tolkien.  I was listening to Radiolab's "The Ring And I", a years-old podcast about Wagner's Ring Cycle, and although I'm only about 1/3 of the way through it, I've already learned a lot, like the fact that Lucas' famous kiss between twin siblings who don't know they're twins is actually something Wagner put into his opera, but it's okay because Wagner took that stuff from Norse mythology, which also suffered a bunch of pillaging by Arthurian legend.

Here's how it all works:

Wagner's Ring Cycle of operas is the story of how an evil dwarf stole the Rhinegold and made a ring of power, which then fell into the hands of the gods, creating all kinds of problems.  I really don't know the entire plot yet, but Odin's son Sigmund figures in, as Sigmund falls in love with his twin sister Sieglinde -- he doesn't know she's his twin- causing Odin to send Brunhilde the Valkyrie to bring Sigmund to Valhalla (i.e., kill him) but Sigmund explains to Brunhilde that he doesn't want to go because he's in love and so Brunhilde takes his side in things.

Also: At one point in Norse legend, Odin buries a sword in a tree and says that whoever can pull it out gets the sword as a gift.

Whew!  That's a lot to digest on my morning commute to work.

Andrew got the answer to yesterday's question; I don't know how he did it, but he did.  

Here's today's question, #72: remember, they're all worth 50 points from here on out, and the last commenter on each post will get 40 points, the "last commenter" being determined by whose comment is last when I post the next question in the blogathon.

What Wagnerian musical technique did Star Wars consciously use?
Sure beats questions like how many buttons were in the Millennium Falcon model Lucas used? [ANSWER: I don't know.] I should've gone off-book 71 questions ago.


PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

leitmotiv...whatever that is.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...


A leitmotiv is a musical theme which represents a character or idea, a technique found most often in Operas. For example: if we hear a certain melody each time the villain appears onstage, then we hear the same melody the first time the hero finds a magic ring, we are alerted that the magic ring is somehow associated with the villain - that melody is the villain's leitmotiv. Once an audience has learned the set of leitmotivs used in an opera, a composer can suggest complex and subtle relationships between characters and ideas by playing those leitmotivs at different tempos, with different instruments and in different combinations. Leitmotivs are particularly effective because people tend to have a much stronger emotional reaction to information conveyed through music than the same information conveyed through spoken word.

The leitmotiv is most often associated with the German composer Richard Wagner. He didn't invent the leitmotiv, but he developed the idea far beyond what had been done before. His famous tetralogy of operas Der Ring des Nibelungen (also called The Ring Cycle) is one of the most influential works of art in history, inspiring all Opera since it was first produced in 1876, as well as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and countless other works.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

BTW, the Wagner opera "Gotterdamung" (or however it is spelled) is featured in my novel "A Hero's Journey" when Emma and Dan go on a date at the opera, which of course goes horribly wrong. I cribbed plot descriptions from Wikipedia for that.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I have no idea actually. I feel so left out because of my musical ignorance.

Andrew Leon said...

I actually knew the answer to today's question. I would have just answered with "motif," though, unless I were to have double-checked my answer before submitting it. There's a documentary about Wagner and the motif somewhere in the special features of either Star Wars or Young Indiana Jones, and they talk all about this.

I'll keep my secrets as to how I found yesterday's answer, but I will say I actually remember when that was happening back in the 80s. It was kind of a huge deal.

As for Tolkien, Wagner and Norse mythology were a huge influence on him. One of his driving motivations was to "create a mythology," and origin story, for Britain. England is somewhat similar to the current US in that it was originally peopled by tribes from all over the region who fought over it for centuries, so there were no British legends prior to Arthur, and, you know, that was all written down by a French guy.

Rusty Webb said...

I thought he used the musical technique called 'Wookniered'. Which is to use music to evoke Wookie like moods in oneself. He wrote all of THX-1138 that way.